*This article is a 4 minute read.
School started for my kiddo on July 20th just like that summer break was over. I kept my opinion to myself, but how could they do this to kids?
My kid's priorities should be chasing ice cream trucks, enjoying the outdoors, the beach, dips in the pool you know childhood?
When school closed last spring due to the pandemic, we opted out of distance learning. I taught my child with books from the library, but I could not continue homeschooling without pulling him out of school completely so it was Back to School Zoom Style this week!
"No Man Is An Island" -John Donne
A few days before school opened I received a text from my child's teacher. We spoke one on one, followed by my son attending a class Zoom meeting. He knew many of the students from last year. Tears welled up in his eyes at the sight of his classmates for the first time in months. After the Zoom meeting I asked him why he was upset.
"Everyone looks so grown up mom," he said. I guess in that moment he realized the passage of time, and began to process the pandemic. In our four months of lockdown we had been isolated from his peers, even our extended family.
I reminded him of the positives. "Hey your new teacher is great! You're going to have some interesting subjects in fifth grade." I told him that online learning is temporary, and that we have to focus on good things that happen every day.
Back To School Drive Thru
Before school started I drove to my son's school for a teacher meet and greet and to pick up school supplies. I was in my car with my dog for company, the engine idling my son was at camp. This might sound strange but I found myself crying after talking to his principal and teacher.
I remembered the countless times I drove to school early to pick him up. I would park my car under a shady tree listening to music with my eyes closed. The last moment of zen before the mayhem- after school activities, chaperoned playdates, dinner, homework, wrestling to put him to bed.
I recalled the look of joy when my child would spot the car, or my silhouette from the top of the hill. He would tell me about his day. Our time apart was essential for me to get things done, and for him to grow up confident and independent. As I pulled out of the school driveway "Wake Me Up When September Ends" played on the radio. I couldn't make this up.
My Home Is Now The International Space Station
Now we are tethered 24/7, and no it is not normal, but this is about survival. I remind my family of that reality, as we hone in on the positives: Good health, employment, blooming flowers, and trying out new recipes that don't go awry. FYI I was told to never attempt to bake a pie again!
Here's how our first week back at school went.
I'm in shock this was smoother than I could have imagined. His course links were emailed to him, he clicks the link and his teacher begins instruction. Even PE is available, and he actively participated. I was in the room next door, and I could hear the lesson, and my child's involvement, and enthusiasm. Great first day!
Another amazing day! Even the most problematic kid in the class behaved on Zoom, maybe because kids are muted while the teacher is talking, perhaps because their parents are nearby so they behave better, not sure what it is but it's working.
Wednesday is usually a half day, but it's a full day with distance learning. At one point I caught my son playing video games instead of listening, but I stopped him, and he went right back to work. We resumed one extracurricular class held outdoors that is going well. He was feeling productive and happy.
Homework assignments were given, and they are due next week. The assignments were creative and fun, I guess to keep students engaged during the summer. He has to create a historical cartoon online, and conduct a quarantine photo shoot.
At the time of this story, everything is still going well knock on wood I think this is doable.
I realize everyone's situation is unique. My son is in a science charter school with a great staff, and gracious student body. I was happy with his school when it was in person, and I continue to be pleased with how they are handling distance learning.
Both my husband and myself work from home so we do not have the incredible burden of working outside, and trying to find childcare. My son is also ten so he is more independent and doesn't need constant supervision like a younger child would require.
The pandemic is hard on everyone, but it takes its toll most on those who provide essential services, and the economically vulnerable, or sick. I wanted to share our experience as a glimpse into what you can expect when school resumes for the rest of California.
Is It Time To Change Schools?
I am happy with my son's current education, but if you are not pleased with your child's education, use this time to research alternative schooling. Sanderling Waldorf School is offering outdoor classes. There are also great schools that offer independent study like Mount Everest Academy. If you are home, now is the time to discover how your child learns without being too much of a helicopter parent. You can also find educational activities to enhance their learning experience, and develop a positive rapport with their teachers through text and email.
Take It One Day At A Time
Many parents at wits end with their kids and spouses home all day while they work remotely. They worry about the lack of socialization, exercise, or lack of independence kids are getting during the pandemic all valid concerns. My advice, try to look at it through the lens of the generations of children that grew up during World War 2, or The Great Depression. Those children developed humility, survival and a grace that carried them through life's challenges. This experience will shape your child's perspective.
My child's teacher encourages children and families to spend time outside when not in school. A little fresh air, walk, time at the beach or park can relieve stress and anxiety. As my son's preschool teacher once said, "You are not just a parent but a memory maker."
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